Yes, grammar does matter!

18th November 2009 | Posted in Editing

I have just read a blog on 28 tips for successful sales copy. (That’s a lot – people usually just stick with ten or even five Top Tips.)

I totally agreed on 27 of the points, about understanding the product, targeting the message to the audience, and selling the benefits rather than the features.

There was just the one point that caused my eyebrows to hit my hairline, and that was the argument that grammar no longer matters.

Oh, but it does.

When you are writing for an audience out there somewhere, you’re not going to be on hand to explain what you mean. For sales writing success you want your audience to understand what you want to say, fast. That means writing to the point, and accurately. If we as writers use correct grammar, it’s going to make the job of understanding what we are writing so much easier.

This is even more apparent when you are writing for an international audience. For those with English as a second or even third language, their understanding will be helped enormously if they break down the content into phrases and terms using the grammar that they have learnt.

Of course there are times when we as copywriters bend the rules. Sometimes we begin sentences with “And” or “But” for dramatic effect. But if you start messing big-time with the basic rules of grammar, you will confuse. Mixing tenses, wandering from plural to singular and back again, forgetting that sentences generally need a subject and a verb – it just creates fog rather than clarity.

So whilst I am not totally rigid about grammatical correctness – I have been known to split the odd infinitive – it seems to me that just ignoring the rules does your readers, and potential customers, a disservice. And it undermines your credibility in the eyes of all those to whom grammar does matter.

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